More of Palast

by | Dec 14, 2001 | Archives

Yesterday's article showed the IMF's four steps to damnation by Greg Palast. Here is an interview by the Clevland Free times of Palast.

Dear International Friend,

Yesterday's message shows why the current economic model must fail (and why we can still be free and succeed). Here is more by Palast.

GREGORY PALASTINTERNATIONAL INVESTIGATIVE REPORTERby Sandeep KaushikCleveland Free TimesPublished April 11 – 17, 2001

Gregory Palast is almost certainly the greatest investigativejournalistyou've never heard of. An award-winning reporter in Britain, wherehe writesfor The Guardian and The Sunday Observer, as well as hosts the BBCs60Minutes-esque Newsnight, Palast abandoned his native America when themainstream press declined to publish his groundbreaking, hard-hittingexposés, known for stripping bare abuses of power. Case in point:his recentseries on how Jeb Bush and Katherine Harris conspired to illegallypurge theFlorida voting rolls of thousands of former felons whose votingrights hadbeen restored by other states, the vast majority of whom were (notcoincidentally) Democrats. In the few venues that have bothered toreport itin the United States, it's caused scarcely a ripple. Palast will be inCleveland on Tuesday to debunk reigning myths about the much-toutedphenomenon known as globalization.

Free Times: How did you become an investigative journalist?

Greg Palast: I started out as an investigator for American state andlocalgovernments; I'm an expert in the regulation of industry. Forinstance, Iworked for the Chugach natives of Alaska to expose the fraudinvolved in thegrounding of the Exxon Valdez, and for the government in itsprosecution ofthe Shoreham nuclear plant scandal in New England, the biggestracketeeringcase in history. There we won a $400 million settlement from thebuilders andthe utility, which we proved had lied about the plant's safety. Itwas anatural progression from there into journalistic investigations.

FT: Ever do any work in Ohio?

GP: Yeah, I discovered with the steel industry that it's not cheapJapaneseimports that are responsible for the loss of American steel jobs.The jobs atcompanies like LTV went with the introduction of continuous casting andautomation. The truth is that when markets were tight, Americansteelmakerschose to crank up prices rather than produce and sell more steel,whichhelped foreign companies get a foothold in the market. They raisedpriceswhen markets were tight, then closed plants when markets went slack.Unlikethe foreign competitors, they felt no obligation to maintain theirworkforce.

FT: The promo for your upcoming appearance for the Cleveland Councilon WorldAffairs says that British Prime Minister Tony Blair called you aliar. What'sthat about?

GP: I did an undercover investigation in which I penetrated hiscabinet andcircle of closest advisors to show how U.S. and British companiesare able tobuy insider access. I posed as a businessman interested in gettinglegislation changed, and a cabinet minister told me that for 5,000pounds, hewould get me into 10 Downing Street, where I'd get what I wanteddone. It wasthe biggest scandal of the Blair administration, and forced theresignationof several ministers, even though Blair said I was a liar.

FT: What's your beef with American newspapers?

GP: Just look at my Florida theft-of-the-election story. When itcame out inBritain, hundreds of people asked me, “When will Bush resign?” It'sa dualshame: first the election shenanigans, then the almost total lack ofreporting about them. Mainstream American papers don't like to publishcontroversial stuff, particularly if it has to do withinvestigations ofindustry. The Washington Post did print my story on the scam of utilityderegulation in California, but for the most part, while I'mmainstream inEurope, I'm non-stream in my home town. I should say, though, that Iamcurrently filming a documentary for PBS on the presidential electionrip-off.

FT: Your talk in Cleveland is on the myth of “globalization.” Whatdoes theterm even mean?

GP: The way it's usually bandied about, it's pretty vague. It hassomethingto do with the future, with giving Bolivian peasants cell phones andwiringEskimos to the internet. If you're against it, that means you mustbe againstthe future, and the communication revolution, and the concept ofbringing theworld together. You're a Luddite. But it's funny; I haven't yet met ananti-globalization activist who is against the internet. Let' getreal – noone' against the natives in Alaska getting on the net anddownloading theirporn just like everyone else.

FT: So if it's not about wiring the Sahara for cable, what is itabout?

GP: I'm talking about groups like the International Monetary Fund[IMF], theWorld Bank [WB], and the World Trade Organization [WTO]. Think ofthose wackoright-wing conspiracy nuts that are always screaming about one worldgovernment. Well, they're completely right that one exists, thoughwhile theythink it's the Jews or communists who are running it, in realityit's thewhite WASPs that run the IMF and WB. When I talk aboutglobalization, I'mtaking it upon myself to pull together the facts that reveal whatthe IMFactually does.

FT: What does it do?

GT: It goes around to poor and needy countries and imposes somethingit callsa “poverty reduction strategy.” First this involves “liberalizingcapitalmarkets,” which means making it easy for American banks to movemoney intoand out of the country. When things are good, money flows in; whenthey'rebad, it flies out. At the same time, the IMF requires them tomaintain thevalue of their currency. But when the economy takes a downturn andthe moneyflows elsewhere, a country has to raise interest rates to levelsthat wouldmake a Lower East Side loan shark salivate to bring it back. Inessence,these countries end up buying back their own money, but atincredibly highrates. And this is just the beginning of the IMF?s involvement.

FT: You claim to know the dirty inner secrets of the IMF. How is thatpossible?

GP: I've had large numbers of secret hidden documents slipped to me.The IMFreally is its own secret world government; all of these reports arestamped”for official use only” and “restricted distribution.” They know if thedetails of what they're doing gets out, there'd be people in thestreets. Infact, there were 400 major demonstrations, riots and actions againsttheseorganizations across the world in 1999 alone, but only about a dozenwere inthe West, so you don?t hear about them. You will, though, if youcome to myCleveland talk; it's going to be fun.

Award-winning reporter Palast writes Inside Corporate America forthe LondonObserver. To read other Palast reports, to contact the author or tosubscribe to his column, go to

Until next message, good global business and investing!